Chicago fun

Just hanging around on a very cold night. Finding fun wherever I go! It’s easier when YOU are fun!!! Hmmmm maybe I’ll go get some pizza at Ginos East or Giordanos …although Portillos sounds pretty good.

Taking a break from the website. Have you seen it yet?

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Shaun Hays – Now Doing Pavement Art

Shaun Hays' Chalk Art

Nautilus Shell At Night - Shaun Hays

As I’ve traveled here and there with my presentation of “Chalk Rock”, I am inevitably asked by someone if I’ve seen the 3d chalk art people do on the streets. The answer is yes and I’ve been a fan for many many years of people like Sidewalk Sam, Michael Kirby, Kurt Wenner, Julian Beever, Cuong Nguyen and Tracy Lee StumMadonnari (professionals in this medium); display their work at festivals like the International Street Painting Competition in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy.

Street painting has caught on like wild fire in the last few decades and viral emails plus Youtube have played a huge role in that. Street painting has become a major crowd pleaser and is now done in festivals all over the globe. Although I have not personally entered a chalk art festival in the past, I will be entering several in the next couple years and featured as an artist at more than one. While I am doing this for obvious exposure, I am mostly doing it to meet other artists and glean from their varied experience.

Coming from Chicago, chalk art isn’t as popular as in other more weather-suitable states, but if Julian Beever can work in the rain and cold of the U.K., I guess I can find a way of chalking in the snowy/rainy months of a Chicago winter. (I’ll just have to anchor my tent down so the wind doesn’t run away with it!)

Yes, I’m throwing my hat into the bullring of street painting. I guess I’m feeling gutsy. I still love to do my 10 minute “Chalk Rock” to live audiences, but I’ve begun to see the need to expand my horizons. If I don’t love it to death, I can always stop right? (Yea, I don’t think that’s likely either.)

Are you interested in having a street painting done at your event or featuring me at your festival? Email me.

Well, as soon as I get pics of my first few drawings, I’ll post them here on my blog and on my website.

The Power Of Small Successes

In my last post, which is repeated on my Sparkpage Blog, I promised to reveal specific ways that have been successful for me and that have made me confident in my ability to achieve more than ever! Here Goes:

Shaun Hays - youth speaker, author, artist

In 2003 I wrote a small book called “The Power Of Small Successes” which I plan to edit and re-release sometime this year. The principles of that book have helped to guide me through many setbacks and shortcomings on my way to health and financial freedom. It all starts with setting small, achievable goals and then celebrating those achievements.

The power of small successes is extraordinary in it’s ability to motivate! It is the main way I motivate myself on a day to day level. It keeps my “thrill level” high. It is also why I make daily, weekly, monthly and yearly lists. The lists are a set of achievable goals that are flexible when the need arises, but help keep my mind focused on what is important for me to achieve that day, month, etc. The lists are there to focus my mind on what I can and do achieve. I look at them with only a positive perspective. I do not allow them to weigh me down. The smaller the goals at first, the more success you will have in the long haul, and the more you will be able to achieve!

Now I know that most people are intimidated by lists of to-do’s and goals, but that is because of their real or imagined failures in the past. The majority of my readers can point to their New Year’s Resolutions which by this point (Jan. 13th) are already failed attempts to achieve wild goals with out real passion. Setting high goals and striving to obtain them, is much like trying to swallow an elephant. No matter how sincere you are when you start out, you are never going to achieve your goal (and your “thrill level” will crash!). If you break it down to very achievable goals, however, you can certainly take on huge undertakings. Imagine your goal really was to eat an elephant (I know that’s not right but bear with my illustration). How would you do it? Not all at once but bite-by-bite. Likewise, if you take your goals and break them down smaller and smaller until it’s easier to swallow, you will be able to achieve bigger things and keep that illusive “thrill level” high! Who knows? Maybe you can get your village to help you!

Sometimes I make my goals ridiculously achievable! I have lost quite a bit of weight,reclaimed my life and achieved amazing dreams by simplifying my goals and making them achievable.  For example: How many of you put this on your daily list of achievements:

Wake up

Make Coffee

Take a shower

Let the dog(s) out

Read Email


Probably not. This is exactly how the beginning of my list looks. Why? Because I want to celebrate all that I have achieved at the end of my day. Seriously, when was the last time you celebrated getting out of bed and showering? You may think it’s silly or weird, but if you’ve ever suffered from depression, you know that getting out of bed and showering are tough tasks sometimes. So, celebrate that you did it! Celebrate what you achieve throughout the day. Do it by keeping a list. Write down every little detail that you want to include. I  write down when I take a break and when I play a video game for an hour! Why? Because I’d rather look at my accomplishments than my defeats. I am accomplishing a much deserved break after working for so many hours. I edited my blog and contacted speaker bureaus etc. and now I reward or celebrate by giving myself some fun time!

It’s not going to waste your time. It’s not oversimplified. I have a form in my word processor that is called “Git Er Dun!” On this form I simply write what I want to do and what I did. I file them away and may or may not ever look at them again. They are a great reference if I need to look up when I talked to someone or anything else, but they are for that day mostly, that’s all. Of course, as I said earlier in this article, I do have weekly, monthly and yearly lists. I suggest this pattern, but remember the point is to stay encouraged by this, not to be discouraged by the task.

You have an amazing amount of time wasted in every day… and it doesn’t have to be that way. You CAN be truly productive and goal motivated. Start by setting your goal to set some small achievable goals. Things you know you will do. Things you already do! Track your day and celebrate anything you achieved. Slowly add in things you want to achieve. When you are ready, begin to challenge yourself to new heights. This is where big dreams come in to play. Monitor your “thrill level”. Eventually you will see when it’s too much for one day or week. I’m not asking you to celebrate mediocrity. I’m asking you to be realistic and to bring your dreams into reality. You will know this better when you keep lists and celebrate your accomplishments.

*If this works for you please comment here or send me an email! It’s worked for me!

For more on Shaun please visit his official website.

Speaking On Suicide – a helpful guide


Some speakers don’t like to hit certain subjects. They’re uncomfortable with them. Suicide for instance. I believe that speakers avoid heavy subjects like this because they are either scared it will be too tough for their audience to listen to, or because they are not sure they have good answers. I mean how do you comfort a grieving community or convince a suicidal person to live and (at the same time), practice entertaining an audience? Well, I do it almost everyday.

The fact is, when you truly care about an audience, they know it. If you’re just there for a notch in your proverbial career belt, somehow it comes through in the presentation. Like a good friend or family member, if you’re sincere, you can say just about anything and the person will receive it. You can (and probably should) get them to laugh…even if they have tears in their eyes. Laughter is the best medicine you know. However, if you are not confident in your use of humor, this is not the place to experiment. Those of us who use humor as an effective tool for communicating a serious message have plenty of practice, but still approach this with caution.

I have dealt with suicide on several levels: my own personal struggle with suicidal tendencies, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, situational depression and more. I have lost close personal friends and acquaintances to suicide due to Mental Illness, misdiagnosis and wrong prescriptions, and the general lack of ability to handle a situational depression, debt and job loss. Yes, suicide has touched my life in a deep way. I have suffered near unbearable grief which included all the typical emotions of grief:

  • Denial, disbelief, numbness
  • Anger, blaming others
  • Bargaining
  • Depressed mood, sadness, and crying
  • Acceptance, coming to terms

I have also experienced many atypical emotions due to grief I will not share. The fact is, I have lived with great pain.

Surprisingly, through it all, I have learned to live with great joy! I have learned great lessons that are crucial to living life to it’s fullest and I want to share those lessons with my audience. The last thing I want to see is someone needlessly suffering more than they have to. Suicide or suicidal thoughts are devastating enough, there is no reason to hold on to the pain and keep a wound fresh. It does no good for the victim or the survivors. By holding on to our pain, we prolong our suffering.

Remembering someone you lost is different than keeping the wound fresh. In remembrance, we can move into healing while finding constructive ways to keep the memory of our dear one with us. No victim of torturous thought would want anyone else to suffer the same fate. At least not if all their faculties were about them. Which is often the case in suicide. Instead, it is our responsibility to achieve what they could not. To take the best of them and make it a part of us and to build upon that.

Build what?- an exciting and full future. This should be the goal of every speaker in any situation and it is my life’s goal to help other’s do this.

Shaun Hays_gold background

Shaun Hays, speaker, author, artist

A few guidelines speakers should follow if addressing a group on the issue of suicide:

Be sensitive to their situation. Do not disrespect the memory of anyone who has passed away. Do not belittle their pain. Remain confident in your skills. Take time to get personal with your audience. If you are speaking on Suicide Prevention, include everyone: remember bullying as well as passiveness can add to an already fragile situation. Give answers and hope that are easily accessible. Remember and teach the ACE (ask, care, escort) principle. If you can, point them to a person (someone from the organization who hired you) who is there to help. (Hurting people tend to respond to someone they know not an institution.) Do not turn it into something political or religious unless the family of the deceased or the event planner has asked you to give that specific type of message. (If you are dealing with family and an event planner, make sure they agree on this!)

For more on Shaun visit:

I Love Chicago!

The Chicago River as seen from the Lake Street...

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Chicago has about as many nicknames as Professor Xavier‘s Institute for Gifted Children – otherwise known as ‘The X-Men Mansion”. I personally call it “Chitown” (pronounced ‘shy-town’), but others have refered to it as: “sweet home”, “Paris by the prairie”, “New Gotham”, “The Chill”, “Second City”, “The Big Onion”, “Beirut by the Lake”, “Miami of Canada” (By Mr. Burns on the Simpsons), and of course: “The Windy City”. You can look up more if you’re so inclined. One I left off that list is “City of Broad (or Big) Shoulders”. After 25 years of her influence on my life, I have my own reason to call her that.

I know I already said it in the title but I Love Chicago! I consider it my hometown. “Consider” – because I wasn’t born in Chicago and I’ve only had addresses in the suburbs, but I think I’ve spent more hours inside it’s boarders than in some of those homes. Arguably I have worked in every neighborhood in the great city and almost every one of it’s suburban surroundings. I have been a part of Chicago in ways many people will never have a chance to be, even if they were born and raised here, and I count that a great honor.

I cleaned floors in the Merchandise Mart which contains the Chicago World Trade Center and worked at a Wendy’s fast food and Fanny May Candies at the foot of the famed Sears  Tower (No, I will not call it the Willis Building.) I worked near both Wrigley Field and Comisky Park. I worked as the supervisor over all the crews of Skyline Building Maintenance Inc. for many years. We worked round the clock making Chicago’s buildings sparkle. During the day crews were cleaning windows on skyscrapers and chains like Hollywood Video, Fannie May Candies, Blockbuster Video, Wendy’s Fast Food Restaurants, etc. and at night our crews cleaned carpets, stripped and waxed tile flooring, buffed, emptied trash and cleaned toilets on a myriad of businesses all over the northern part of Illinois.  At one time we even ventured into Indiana and Wisconsin.  We were in the richest and poorest areas including the wealthiest suburbs on the North Shore, such as Kenilworth, Glencoe, Winnetka, Highland Park, and Lake Forest. These suburbs have a tremendous amount of prestige associated with them and the cost of land is astounding.We cleaned windows and chandeliers in some of the largest houses in the Suburbs which can be found in areas away from the lake in cities like South Barrington and Inverness. Then at night, (graveyard shift) we were in the worst neighborhoods like Englewood, North Lawndale, and West Garfield Park, Cabrini Greene and the Taylor Projects. (I loved this, by the way because it kept us grounded in reality and the people were usually nice, fun and loving once you got to know them. I only call them “worst” because they were economically opposite of the other neighborhoods listed, and because most people I knew tried to avoid these areas in the day much less at 3am.)

The people I met during this time were some of the most interesting characters: Workers down on their luck working a night job cleaning toilets in order to get off the streets, homeless men and women looking to hustle anything they could to get their next fix, CEO’s trying to cut corners in order o turn a profit in the next quarter, Gang bangers who hated me for the color of my skin…yet somehow grew to respect me, and all the average joe’s who worked day in and day out that make Chicago great. I think the person I grew to know best through Chicago was me. Every day I entered new unknown areas of the city or outlying areas and with each new day came new tests and fears I had to overcome. I failed many times at completing the tasks assigned to me by my superiors and often failed at overcoming my own internal battles against the unexpected and challenging emotions that came with that job. In the end, I prevailed and Chicago became symbolic to me of my struggles. I grew bigger in many ways while on that job. Chicago taught me to be diverse and stand my ground. They call it the City of Big Shoulders, and now I have my own definition of what that means.

– Shaun Hays

P.S. – I am in love with the idea of the new Chicago Spire and can’t wait to see it completed! IF you don’t know much about it check out this video and website.

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Using a new service: Mobypicture – Let’s see how this works.
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This pic was taken between 2004-2006 sometime on my way to a youth conference in California or Colorado i think. The event coordinator asked me to deliver a message on leadership and attitude. I remember it was a long and difficult month of travel so every free moment was preparation for the next event.  I look like I’m deep in thought, but who knows I could be hungry for Chicago Deep Dish. Oh and if you are wondering about the shirt: I was not a fireman or anything I just support the firemen and women of planet earth BIG TIME!! They deserve our support. If you or someone you know is in fire fighting,  go here! I was consulting with the Founder during it’s formation and I think it rocks! (All credit to Michael Finney!)

Becoming a “Life Coach”

Becoming a “Life Coach” Click on this link to visit my Health Blog on Spark Pages

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hi! In case you don’t know me, I’m Shaun Hays and I’m a motivational speaker who came pretty darn close to living in a van down by the river!

The funny thing is, I went through so much garbage in life (abuse, depression, etc.) and overcame those large obstacles in my way years before I nearly lost everything important in to me… you’d think I would have learned a few things by then. I guess we just have to keep reliving things sometimes until we get it right.

Well, I have learned some very important things along the way, and it’s now my desire to pay it forward to as many people as I can! I took a few years off the road to recalibrate and apply the things I now know really work for anyone… in any situation. Yes, I’ve applied them to my own life and seen a huge change but I have also watched people around me apply these same principles and they worked for them too. Some have achieved HUGE success by doing so.

Now, my goal is to reach as many as I can through public speaking all around the world. I am confident my message applies to everyone, but I know that only a handful of the one’s I reach that way will continue to pursue the principles they hear throughout their life. That is why I am setting my goal to become a “Life Coach”.

Life Coaches” reach people on a much deeper level of life than public speakers. Public speakers usually don’t get involved, they choose a message fitting to the event coordinator’s needs and that of the audience as well, but a life coach gets into the “Nitty-Gritty” parts of life. It’s much like a very good personal trainer would do only the personal trainer is limited to certain areas of your life and health. A life coach will get into all areas to see an overall improvement.

The best life coaching is done with “governing dynamics” in mind. Find the “stuff” controlling the other “stuff” and work on those areas. Everything else will work itself out. If you’re a fan of Jillian Michaels or Robert “Bob” Harper from NBC’sThe Biggest Loser“, you have seen this at work. They find out what is holding a person back and it’s usually an emotional connection to an event in the person’s life that caused them to lead a lifestyle where caring for themselves became unimportant. I’ve been there myself.

I want you today to consider for a moment, what would people want to see from you in the

Shaun Hays

Getting Healthier and Feeling Great!

future if you were given the opportunity to become a “life coach”? Would they want a perfect person? -or- Would they want someone who has suffered pain and overcome their own personal tragedy(s) to become someone better? What goals of yours are leading you down that path? I personally am setting my goals higher this year and I am confident that I can reach them. Why am I so confident that I can and will? That is covered in my next article: “The Power Of Small Successes.”

For more on Shaun Hays, visit:



Step Back! – Getting better by getting a better perspective.

Shaun Hays - youth speaker, author, artistGetting better by getting a better perspective.


I have always been around good speakers and preachers. My dad was one of them. My mother even has great talent for speaking. One thing I often noticed as a youth was that nearly every speaker/preacher I had heard took on a different persona when on stage. Their voices changed and they became this other person. It always perplexed me. I was never comfortable with that thought, so when I was invited by an organization to speak at their conference,  I decided: “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to be as ‘real’ as I can and let the outcome be what it may.” It worked for me. Quite well. I was happy with that for a time, but like all things that are good, there comes a time to decide: “Do I want to be Good or Awesome?”


Audiences comment to me everywhere I go that they like that they can relate to my style. Some refer to it as “sincere”. Some say I’m comical and fun. Some say they cry. Whatever you call it, it’s not hard for me…I love what I do. Mix in the art and music and I’m in heaven! Do I have challenges? Sure. Traveling is often a challenge. I love to see new places and meet people but being away from my wife a lot makes it a challenge. I think the biggest challenge is putting on a smile and entertaining a group when life is testing me somehow and I don’t feel like smiling. Everyone can relate to that in some way, I think. For a public figure it becomes a test of will and attitude. I can honestly say, I’m getting better at this. My goal with every new day, is to get better a little at a time in all areas of my life. It’s like my motto says: “Improve me, Improve others!”


I’m getting better at art too. Mostly because I finally decided to work on it more. Experts in my line of work  say I’m a master artist and I guess their right, but that doesn’t mean I should be happy with where I am. I can be so much better! I can keep pushing the envelope of what chalk art is evolving into. Recently I began to speed the art up to a breakneck pace and call it “Chalk Rock”. I’ve actually pulled muscles doing it this way! I hope to put some video together for my YouTube Channel soon.


I’m improving my health in many ways including losing weight, strength training and eating natural foods as much as I can. My mental health has improved remarkably in the last few years too! I am in control of a number of things that held my progress back and that is turning into great new opportunities for me including writing another book, but it’s the first one I am really excited about because it is for the medical community! There are many other areas that have improved for me lately but I just don’t have the time to write about it all here.


A big key for me has been to step back for the last few years and look at my life, get some perspective and healing in a few areas of my life and then move forward. I needed some time away from speaking to recalibrate and let me tell ya’…it worked marvelously! Now I’m more positive in my attitude than ever before and I have reached goals I thought would take years to carry out. Sometimes just stepping back from a situation is all the answer you need.